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FHWA Bans Firm for Unqualified Worker

Thursday, September 10, 2015

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The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has suspended a Connecticut engineering firm that failed to verify the background of an unqualified bridge inspector.

Garg Consulting Services Inc., which has an office in Rocky Hill, CT, was issued a notice of Suspension and Proposed Debarment on Aug. 13, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Inspector General (OIG).

©iStock.com /  Paul Velgos

Garg Consulting Services Inc. has been suspended from FHWA projects after it failed to verify the credentials of unqualfied bridge inspector Barry Kenneth Purnell Jr.

Meanwhile, the unqualified employee has been sentenced for lying about his qualifications.

Barry Kenneth Purnell Jr., of West Hartford, CT, was sentenced Aug. 28 in Connecticut Superior Court to eight years in prison, according to a separate statement from the DOT’s OIG. The sentence will be suspended after serving nine months and will be followed by five years of probation.

Earlier Agreements

According to a June 22  statement, Garg hired Purnell to work on various projects for the Connecticut and federal DOTs. However, officials later learned Purnell was not qualified to do the work he was assigned.

©iStock.com /  phillyskater

Garg agreed in June to pay the federal government and the State of Connecticut $390,000 for not verifying credentials for Purnell, who had said on his resume that he is a civil engineer.

Purnell had stated on his resume that he had a college degree in civil engineering management and held an Engineer-In-Training certification from the State of Connecticut. In fact, he had neither, the statement said.

Purnell pleaded guilty in February to charges related to a scheme to obtain employment as a consultant bridge inspector under false pretenses. In June, Garg entered into a $390,000 settlement with the U.S. Government and the State of Connecticut for its role in failing to verify Purnell's credentials.

Filing False Credentials

According to the DOT’s OIG, Garg submitted state and federal project proposals with Purnell’s false credentials in order to meet the qualifications for those projects. Later, Garg submitted payroll invoices on which the company indicated that it had paid Purnell for his work on ConnDOT projects and on an Amtrak bridge reconstruction project.

Company Did Not Screen

In the civil court case, the state and federal governments said Garg never conducted appropriate employee screening before hiring Purnell. Had the company done that screening, it would have discovered that Purnell did not have the degree and did not hold—nor ever sought—the state certification, according to the OIG statement.

©iStock.com /  AvailableLight

Purnell (not depicted in photo) pleaded guilty in February to charges related to a scheme to obtain employment as a consultant bridge inspector under false pretenses.

Garg specializes in engineering services for railroads, mass transit systems, highways, bridges, buildings and other special structures, according to its website. The company has offices in Rocky Hill and in Cherry Hill, NJ.

From the settlement, the federal government was to receive $312,706, while Connecticut was to get $77,294.

According to the federal System for Award Management (SAM) website, the date when Garg's exclusion from receiving federal funds for projects will be lifted is indefinite.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Construction; Department of Transportation (DOT); Engineers; Federal Highway Administration (FHWA); Federal Railroad Administration; Government; North America; Program/Project Management; Transportation

Comment from paul graham, (9/10/2015, 6:52 AM)

This is classic greed and can only help those in the future with the proper qualifications.....Excellent Story and great example to properly administer discipline.


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